Studio 20 Professor Jason Samuels is quoted in Wednesday’s New York Times about the impact of dramatic staff reductions at ABC news. From the article:
Jason Samuels, an associate professor of journalism at New York University and a former senior producer at ABC, said Tuesday’s move “makes sense,” but added, “ultimately the pressure to continue churning out network quality news with a pared-down staff is a recipe for burnout.”
The Online Journalism Review talked with him about his role and how producing newscasts for the web is different from producing for broadcast:
OJR: Could you give me one example where the storytelling underscores how different it is from the 6:30 broadcast?
Samuels: Sure, I’ll first go over just the nuts and bolts. It’s essentially a 15-minute, commercial-free show every day that we tape live with Charles Gibson as the anchor. The first two and half minutes are the meat-and-potato headlines—the traditional network news fare. The rest of the show has pieces that can be on the news of the day but they can also be like features.
As an example, though, correspondents usually go out to cover stories; they write a script, edit it and put it together for the broadcast. But I tell them to just shoot a video blog. So in today’s show, Miguel Marquez in Los Angeles was assigned to do a story for the broadcast about the new line of Bible-themed action figures that are going to be sold in Wal-Mart. So when you watch the broadcast tonight it’s going to be a traditional, well-crafted 1:30 to 2-minute piece. What we asked him to do is that when you are at Wal-Mart and you are reporting your piece for the broadcast, just stand there, hold up these action figures and just tell us about them. Don’t script anything perfectly just give us your own impression and your sense of what is the story. Miguel filed a video blog piece that is about a minute long for our webcast. It’s a little less formal, it’s a little more raw and I would argue in some ways it is a little more real.
It is less polished but I think younger people are willing to accept that and almost prefer that instead of showing what’s packaged so perfectly.
Now if there is a piece for the broadcast that we are interested in, we will put that on our webcast as well. For example there is a piece for broadcast tonight about a woman who has homeless kids taking photos of what they wish to aspire to. And it’s a wonderful piece that should be interesting no matter how old you are. We’ve put that into our webcast.
Another example. We did an interview for the webcast exclusively with Christopher Hitchens, on his book, “God is Not Great.” We sat him down in front of a camera and we had him basically talk about the themes in his books and we edited that down into an essay. That would never go on the evening news shows but for us it worked. It’s provocative and it’s different.
Studio 20 Professor Jason Samuels has been named the executive producer of the BET news’ live coverage of President Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address. In this role, Professor Samuels will oversee two hours of special live coverage which will air on BET, BET HD, and BET International, including live analysis and an in-depth look back at President Obama’s first year in office through the eyes of black America.
More details to come.
Studio 20 Professor Jason Samuels won a duPont Award for producing an hour-long segment on racial profiling - “A Pattern of Suspicion” - which aired on Dateline NBC in April 2004. Watch this excerpt from the PBS program ‘Without Fear or Favor. The Best in Broadcast Journalism,” to see an interview with Samuels.